VATICAN – The Pope: prayer and fasting for Afghanistan; religious congregations ready to welcome refugees

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Rome – Pope Francis, expressing his closeness to the Afghan people, said at the Angelus on Sunday, August 29: “I am following the situation in Afghanistan, and I take part in the suffering of those who are grieving for the persons who lost their lives in the suicide attacks that happened last Thursday, and of those who are seeking help and protection. I entrust the deceased to the mercy of Almighty God and I thank those who are striving to help that population so tried, in particular the women and children”. The Pontiff asked the world to “continue to help the needy and to pray that dialogue and solidarity may lead to the establishment of a peaceful and fraternal coexistence and offer hope for the country’s future”. “In historic moments like this one”, he adds, “we cannot remain indifferent”.
“The history of the Church – Pope Francis continued – teaches us this. As Christians this situation obligates us. For this reason I address an appeal, to everyone, to intensify your prayer and practice fasting. Prayer and fasting, prayer and penance. This is the moment to do so. I am speaking seriously: intensify your prayer and practice fasting, asking the Lord for mercy and forgiveness”.
Fr. Matteo Sanavio, Rogationist priest, General Councilor for the Service of Charity and Mission, and president of the inter-congregational Association “Pro Bambini di Kabul” , which has been working in Afghanistan since 2006, tells Fides: We wholeheartedly unite ourselves to the Pope’s message. We feel deeply challenged to pray and fast for Afghanistan and to make available our resources and our energy to welcome refugees. Today, we note with concern the great suffering of the Afghan people. The nation needs peace and mercy”.
According to the priest, the Association, managed the “Pro Bambini di Kabul” Day Center in the Afghan capital, which welcomed about 50 disabled children. The Center was managed by missionary religious from various congregations and by a large group of collaborators and local staff, who also moved abroad thanks to the airlift organized by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Center has now closed. “The Afghan people who arrived in Italy will be welcomed by various religious congregations across the Italian territory, who have given their availability. There are also 14 severely disabled children, who in Kabul were cared for and followed by the Missionaries of Charity. They too are in Italy with the sisters who had adopted them. They are the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable, the discarded ones. We are ready to welcome them, care for them, love them”.